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Mount Simon. Eau Claire, WI

As 2013 nears it's conclusion, I couldn't help but feel that I was leaving it somewhat unaccomplished.  After spending the better part of the holidays dwelling on all of the coulda-shoulda-woulda, I finally realized what was missing.  

Hastily, I assembled my crew and gear and took off for Eau Claire, WI: The home of Mount Simon.  This was what I had been missing all along.  

As we arrived at the trailhead, the sun was making it's final move below the horizon, leaving us with a dark and snowy ascent to redemption.  

  Higher and higher we climbed, leaving behind the sounds of some dingus doing hot laps in his front yard with a snowmobile.  Glory was soon to be ours as we ascended over rock outcroppings and snow drifts.  

Is that the Hillary Step?

 

At last, the deed was done.  2013 can now be chalked up as a smashing success.  

See you in 2014!

The Large Axe

Another summit cheeseburger in Lanzarote!  Details and photos to come later. For now, read this:http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacha_Grande

Lanzarote!

I ate a cheeseburger on this summit today. Details and photos to come later when I'm not on a mobile phone. 

Federal Hill

I traveled to Baltimore, MD for a conference. On the last day in town I snuck away with a couple of friends to explore the city. What better way to go exploring than to find a nearby summit? I was excited when the Magic Mountain Finder showed a summit within walking distance of our conference. We hopped on the water taxi and stopped at Fells Point, one of the oldest deep-water ports in Baltimore’s harbor.  We explored the area and found a local’s favorite burger place. We stopped for a beer and planned to take our burgers to go. The burgers looked so good that the others couldn’t resist eating immediately. I resisted the temptation and placed my burger in its tidy to-go box. We hopped back on the water taxi and headed towards our destination, Federal Hill.

 

My grumbling stomach was thankful for the short and easy walk to the peak. I quickly snapped the picture and devoured my burger. Although my friends did not eat their burger on the hill, they were happy they joined me in the adventure. It was an excellent way to end a wonderful trip.

A "Historical" Summit

From Flagstaff Hill in Boston Common, I took a short walk over to Government Center, where according to the map, Pemberton Hill summit was located.  This is labelled as a Historical Summit.  I'm not sure what that means, but Pemberton Hill is certainly not impressive from an elevation standpoint.  Hard to tell where the highest point is located, as construction has changed the topography completely. Still, I ate my second cheeseburger on the sidewalk outside of a convenience store across the street from the MBTA subway station, and crossed this summit off the list.

Update:

Upon further investigation, I now undertand why this is a "historical summit".  There was once a hill here, but it was cut down, as described here:
http://iwalkedaudiotours.com/2011/12/iwalked-boston%E2%80%99s-pemberton-...

As befits a historical summit, here is a historical image. 

I imagine that this summit predates the actual invention of the cheeseburger.

Flagstaff Hill in the Dark

In my hometown of Boston for the American Society of Human Genetics meeting, I arrived back in my hotel room on Tremont St. after dark and decided to try a couple of downtown summits.  My first stop was the MacDonalds in Chinatown, where I picked up a 2 pack of cheeseburgers and headed to Boson Common.  It was easy to find Flagstaff Hill, as it was clearly the highest point in the park, and the monument at the top was illuminated by the flashing  blue lights of a couple of Boston motorcycle policemen rousting what appeared to be a group of transients.  I was, however, able to climb up on the opposite side and consume my first cheeseburger without being noticed.  From there I slinked downhill to find the next summit near Government Center.  Sadly, I have no picture of this triumph due to the lack of light.  However, I was able to locate this picture on the internet.

Mount Lemmon - 2nd Attempt

Here is my story...

A year and a half ago, I visited my brother and sister-in-law in Arizona. I told them about summit cheeseburger and they were excited to do one. So we decided on Mount Lemmon. We drove up the mountain but as we got to the top we found that the road to the very top was closed because it was covered with ice and snow. (It was February.) Disappointed, we ate our cheeseburgers and went back down the mountain. I was determined to complete that summit.

 

A year ago I moved out to Arizona so this was my chance to have any time of the year to go up the mountain. On September 28th, while visiting my brother in Tucson, we decided to go back up the mountain. This time we were able to go all the way up. When we finally could drive no more, we got out of the car and walked around for a bit to really make sure we had the summit. Neither one of us had a GPS so we just winged it. We found a good spot to stand and look at the scenery while eating our cheeseburgers. They were just the dollar cheeseburgers from McDonald's and were lukewarm at this point but it was still a summit finished on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. 

Sprinting to Cable Mountain

Having just learned that there were trails from my base of operations at Zion Ponderosa Ranch, I drove back through Zion park and checked in at the activities desk where I was able to get detailed, but strangely imprecise directions to Cable Mountain, which would have been a 15 mile roundtrip hike from the Weeping Rock trailhead accessible from the shuttles at the Springdale entrance to the park.  But from the trailhead at the ranch, it would only be a 5 mile roundtrip, and I was assured that it would be scenic and historic (and pretty much level).  And I had another cheeseburger ready to go.

Since it was getting a bit late, and I didn't want to get caught in the dark, I set off immediately in my car on the dirt roads, of which there were a great many, leading in all directions, and not in the best shape due to recent flash flooding.  The map with which I had been provided was a bit lacking in key detail, but I did manage to find a place to park near what appeared to be the trail, and set off at a spritely pace, which got even more spritely when I came across signs indicating that this was actually going to be 7 miles roundtrip, rather than 5.  And not nearly as level as I had been led to believe.

The last mile of this hike is mostly downhill, which seems a bit unintuitive, but there is no mistaking the destination, as this is the site of a steam powered tram that was used to bring trees from the rim down to the canyon floor for construction. The trip apparently took 2 minutes, as opposed to a 2-day trip with horse-drawn wagons.  Obviously, it has not been in use for a good long time (70 years).  

On the way back to my car, I noticed the fork in the trail leading to Deertrap Mountain, which is another as yet uncheeseburgered summit, but it was too late, and I was too tired for another couple miles.  And I was out of cheeseburgers.  So Deertrap Mountain remains for another trip.

 

The Long Way Around to Observation Point

I have actually done this hike before on a previous trip to Zion, but not with a cheeseburger.  So, I thought I would give it another shot.  The hike starts at the Weeping Rock stop of the Zion shuttle.  This was the day before the park would close due to a government shutdown, but there were plenty of people on the shuttle.  Fortunately, most got off at the stop for Angel's landing.  The hike through Echo Canyon to Observation Point is not as scary as Angel's Landing, but it does have it's momments.

Observation Point had the advertised nice things to observe, scenerywise, but I have to say that other than my cheeseburger, the real entertainment was a rodent circus.  I just sat there for 15 minutes watching dozens of them running about, hopping from rock to rock, digging, and climbing stuff.  

On the way down, I noticed a group coming up a side trail, which was posted as 2.5 miles to the park boundary.  Their tour guide explained to me that this was a hike starting on private property, which is pretty much a level walk along the top of  the plateau.  I asked about this at the visitor center and was somewhat chagrined to learn that this hike actually starts on the property of the Zion Ponderosa ranch, which was where I was staying, near the park's east entrance.  So, instead of driving through the park, taking the shuttle to the trail, and hiking 4 miles up over 2000 ft of elevation, I could have just done the hike from the ranch.  But, on the other hand, that would have deprived me of the opportunity to have a very nice Mexican lunch in Springdale.

Bryce Benchmark

This was my second trip to Bryce National Park, but the first time with a cheeseburger in hand.  Last time I did the Fairyland Loop, but this time decided to do the figure 8 version of Navajo, Peekaboo and Queen's Garden trails, starting at Sunrise Point, with a plan to hike up to Bryce Point for my summit.  Alas, the trail to Bryce Point was closed due to a rockfall, which may have been just as well, since it is less of a climb to get back to Sunset Point, although one might be deterred by the threatening signs.

Upon reaching the top, from whence I had come, I drove to Bryce Point and joined the hoards strolling to the observation point.  Along the way, I encountered the benchmark.

However, I decided to consume my cheeseburger on the highest point I could locate instead.

Interestingly, there were two benchmarks along the trail at the bottom of the canyon, but these are not summits.  Rather, they are special markers and if you bring rubbings of 3 of them from thoughout the park, you will be rewarded a "modest prize" in connection with the Hiking the Hoodoos progam.  I was going to try, but then I realized that maybe this is not a progam for adults, as evidenced by the mention of the Junior Ranger booklet.

 

There are many other summits on the map of Bryce, but I'm not sure if they are accessible except by being dropped by helicopter onto the top of a rock formation.  It is worth finding out, though.